Monday, April 9, 2012

Attack of the 15-Foot Conductor

There's nothing like a week off to send you back to work refreshed and full of opinions. I'm still trying to figure out what I thought about the all-Tchaikovsky concert, where a large screen hung above the last Charlotte Symphony Orchestra to show what musicians were doing.

I enjoyed seeing soloists highlighted, especially those at the back of the orchestra, whom you almost never see. I smiled when wind players jammed plugs in their ears during a brass blast or timpani roll, and the camera taught me to think about the music differently: I'd never have picked up on a piccolo solo in the Fourth Symphony, if my eye hadn't been guided to the player.

At the same time, photography encourages laziness; instead of letting our eyes rove over the stage, we get into the rhythm of letting the director tell us where to look, as we do in a movie. Nor did I need to see 15-foot maestro Christopher Warren-Green mopping his brow between movements, like he'd ridden Secretariat to a Belmont Stakes win. (The audience laughed politely, but conducting Tchaikovsky should make you sweat.) I saw one player scratching vigorously, then looking up warily to see if the lens had caught him in a private moment.

So the camera is both illuminating and invasive, helpful and unhelpful. But do we need it at all? I was happy to have a big screen next to the stage when Paul McCartney played Time-Warner; I was sitting  across the arena, and Macca was the size of a thimble. But even this myopic old man can see musicians pretty well from anywhere in Belk Theater, and we go to hear classical music in any case.

I realize the CSO hopes to capture a younger, video-obsessed audience, and this may help. I support any experiment that brings in new ears, so I'll just close my eyes if I'm distracted. If you see me doing that, don't assume I'm asleep.


Anonymous said...

is the headline supposed to be Attack.... Attach doesn't make sense.....